Malpractice cases are not limited to medical physicians. Dentists are equally accountable for their treatments, and they are required to provide their patients with the expected standard of care. When a dentist, orthodontist, periodontist, or orthodontic surgeon injures a patient by deviating from that standard, he or she is liable for injuries caused.
It is important that patients understand what constitutes dental malpractice, and what steps they must take to file a claim against a dental professional. Most importantly, anyone who suspects they are the victim of dental malpractice should contact a dental malpractice lawyer from Malman Law for a free case evaluation.
Anytime a dentist or other dental professional commits an error and causes a catastrophic injury to their patient, they should pay for their wrongful actions.
There are four criteria that need to be present in order to make a medical negligence claim:
Common ways to deviate from the acceptable standard of care may include: a misdiagnosis or misinterpreting test results, failing to take routine X-rays, prescribing the wrong medications, or making an error during dental surgery.
Each specialty in dentistry carries its own set of risks. Each dental professional has a duty of care to each patient. We will investigate your case and confer with reputable dental professionals to determine if the healthcare provider treated you with an adequate level of care.
Medical malpractice claims have to be made within a certain amount of time. This “clock” is known as a statute of limitations. According to Illinois statute 735 ILCS 5/13-212, a claimant (patient filing a claim) only has two years after the date of discovering the injury to file a claim. The law defines the date of discovery as being when the patient had actual or constructive knowledge of the injury. Constructive knowledge implies that a person of reasonable intelligence should have been aware of the injury.
The claimant will not be allowed to file a claim after the two years have passed, even if they have strong evidence that would allow a court to rule in their favor.
An exception to this law is when the patient is under the age of 18. For minor patients, a claim may be filed for eight years following the trauma, but not later than the patient’s 22nd birthday.
In order to recover compensation in a dental malpractice claim, there are a few different elements that your attorney will work to demonstrate.
In order to provide dental malpractice, you and your attorney will work to gather evidence, speak with experts in the field, and put together a summary that outlines the injuries suffered and compensation requested for damages.
In the event that you suffer an injury from a dentist who is performing work on your mouth, you could have an expensive recovery. There are several different types of compensation that you might receive if you pursue a dental malpractice case. These often include recovering costs for:
Your experienced dental malpractice lawyer can give you a detailed summary of the compensation you might expect to receive from your claim.
Many people who are considering a dental malpractice lawsuit after they have been injured might wonder what the process is like. It is advisable to work with a knowledgeable legal team who can help guide you through these steps. The steps for filing a dental malpractice lawsuit often include, but are not limited to:
A patient can seek relief for both economic (special) and non-economic (general) damages.
Economic damages include:
Noneconomic damages include:
Prior to 2010, Illinois had a cap on the noneconomic damages that a person could recover. A claimant could only recover a maximum of $500,000 million against a healthcare professional and $1 million against a healthcare facility or hospital. However, this cap has been lifted since the Illinois Supreme Court ruled this law as being unconstitutional.
Dental injuries and accidents are common. While not as common as medical malpractice and errors, the fact remains that dental professionals cause injuries or deaths annually too.
Dental extractions are complicated and dangerous procedures. They involve the dentist removing a tooth whether it is due to infection, compaction, or another medical reason. With these extractions, injuries can include:
Endodontists are professionals who perform oral surgical procedures, such as root canals and specialty procedures handling infections and diseases of the teeth and tissues.
These specialized procedures have associated risks, and while those risks are not necessarily malpractice, injuries can occur if the endodontist is not careful.
Some common injuries that occur from these procedures include:
Dental implants are designed to restore a patient’s smile, replace missing teeth, and offer permanent solutions for those who do not want dentures. However, they are complicated procedures – much more complex than patients might realize.
While complications exist with this type of procedure, there are also injuries that might occur, including:
These injuries are more common with regular dentists performing the procedures than periodontists (dental professionals with additional training).
Crowns and bridges are used to fill in gaps of missing teeth or teeth lost due to injury and infection. Injuries are not as common with this procedure, but when a dentist is negligent, a patient can suffer costly repairs and injuries, including:
Periodontal disease is a serious infection of the gums and underlying tissues. A dentist should catch this disease early before it has a chance to progress. If the patient continues with frequent check-ups and screenings, their dentist will detect periodontal disease during an annual checkup.
Common injuries and cases associated with this disease include:
If the dentist rarely probes for the disease or never takes routine x-rays, it is likely they will miss the periodontal disease and fail to address it – which could result in a severe infection or complete tooth loss.
Orthodontic treatments typically include braces and re-alignments of the teeth. Sometimes these injuries can result in tooth loss, root damage, nerve damage, unnecessary pain, and TMJ injuries.
Orthodontic procedures are costly; therefore, when an orthodontist is negligent, patients experience excessive out-of-pocket costs that may be unnecessary.
Extensive dental procedures or procedures on young children can lead to complications and injuries. When the dentist fails to inform patients, receive consent, monitor the patient under anesthesia, or review the patient’s history for possible interactions, serious injuries occur.
Common injuries include:
The mouth is full of bacteria, and when a dental office does not properly sterilize or take measures to prevent infection, severe injuries can occur. Infections can be life-threatening and lead to deadly brain abscesses. They can also lead to sepsis, a fatal infection that causes the body’s organs to fail slowly.
Injections are often used to numb the area so that the patient does not feel pain while receiving routine and extensive dental work.
Injuries can occur when injections are done improperly, including permanent nerve damage. While dentists might know they struck a nerve with their injection, if they do not withdraw and reinfect elsewhere, permanent injury might occur. Also, the dentist should follow up with the patient, seek treatment, and refer them to specialists if needed.
Several medications might be used in dental procedures. When a drug reaction occurs, it is typically a drug contraindicated on the patient’s medical history. These can result in fatalities, especially if dangerous interactions occur.
Oral cancers are tragic. Sadly, a dentist who fails to diagnose or misdiagnosis oral cancer may be negligent. If the oral cancer was easily identified, but the dental professional missed the early warning signs, and another dentist would have easily diagnosed it, then that dental professional may be liable.
TMJ surgeries are typically corrective in nature, but if done improperly, they can lead to serious, debilitating injuries. Some patients may be unable to open their mouths, chew, or function. Typically, these injuries occur under the care of an oral surgeon.
When a dentist injures a patient, the patient has several legal remedies at his or her disposal. These solutions include:
Filing a dental malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice attorneys handle dental lawsuits. These are not cases that a victim can handle alone. Instead, an attorney is required to conduct depositions, subpoena records, and conduct a thorough investigation.
If you are eligible to file a dental malpractice claim or lawsuit, your lawyer can obtain the necessary records, bills, and other documents, and submit them to the provider’s malpractice carrier. In most instances, it is extremely difficult to convince a carrier to accept liability for alleged dental malpractice, and many carriers will do everything they can not to. Therefore, your lawyer may need to retain a dental expert who can testify in support of your version of events.
If the carrier eventually accepts liability for the alleged malpractice, your lawyer can begin settlement negotiations. In most instances, early settlement offers from insurance companies are extremely low, and far less than the actual claim value. Insurance companies make initial low offers to see if malpractice victims are in a hurry to settle. After all, most insurance companies want to be done with malpractice cases for as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Our experienced legal team can negotiate with the settlement adjuster on your behalf and work to pursue the maximum amount of compensation available. If the insurance company will not offer you reasonable compensation to settle your dental malpractice claim, we could file a lawsuit in the court system on your behalf, and continue our settlement negotiations. If necessary, we can litigate your case through the system and take your case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration proceeding.
At a civil jury trial, the jury determines what if any damages to award you for your dental injuries, pain, and suffering. However, at a binding arbitration hearing, the parties submit their case to a neutral, third-party arbitrator who listens to the evidence and decides the issue of damages in the case. Our legal team can help you make the best possible decision to recover the highest amount of monetary compensation.
If your injuries are severe, then it might be in your best interest to speak with a malpractice lawyer.
Our malpractice attorneys will then help determine how much your case is worth. We will aggressively seek out the compensation you deserve, and hold the negligent dentist accountable for his or her actions. Furthermore, your lawsuit may prevent others from suffering similar injuries – forcing the dentist to be more aware of how their actions affect their patients. Schedule a consultation with an attorney from Malman Law today by calling or contacting us online.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023